Shandrea Spielman did not know that her 15-month-old daughter had been shot until the two of them were being loaded into an ambulance after what was supposed to be a leisurely walk by a Minneapolis park last week.
Their stroll nearly turned deadly when Spielman and her daughter, Eden, were seriously wounded by stray gunfire that police say was sparked by a gang feud.
They were shot just after 2 p.m. on June 18 as Spielman pushed Eden in a stroller near Peavey Park, close to the intersection of Park and Franklin avenues.
“I thought, ‘It’s not gunshots. It’s the middle of the day and I’m at a park,’ ” Spielman said Friday. “But then I looked down and saw the blood dripping down my leg.”
The 22-year-old, stay-at-home mother said she had taken Eden to the hospital earlier that day for vaccinations and decided to walk to her mother’s home, which was close to the park.
It was a warm day. Eden was asleep in her stroller as they made their way past the park. Then Spielman heard gunfire and saw the blood on her leg. When Eden began to cry, she thought the child was just scared. Bystanders called police, Spielman said.
As emergency personnel arrived and Spielman was being strapped onto a stretcher, she learned that Eden had been shot.
“I didn’t really care that I got hit; I was more happy that I thought that she didn’t,” Spielman said. “So when I found out that she did, it was not a good day anymore.”
Mother and daughter were rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center, where Eden went straight into surgery.
Spielman had been shot in the calf. A bullet went through Eden and came out her backside, damaging her intestines. The two spent days in the hospital.
Eden now has a small colostomy bag attached to her abdomen, an unwelcome accessory that, hopefully, she won’t need after her wounds heal, her mother said.
As her mother talked to reporters Friday at Minneapolis police offices, it was difficult to tell that Eden had been hurt at all as she played with her older sister and curiously grabbed at the news cameras.
“She’s our tough kid,” Spielman said.
Spielman, whose family recently moved to Minneapolis from Eden Prairie, said she’s just happy that their injuries weren’t more serious.
Earlier this week, Dontae Denae Peterson, 27, was charged in the shooting. Authorities say Peterson, a member of the 10z gang, saw a vehicle carrying a rival and his friends going north on Park Avenue.
Peterson told police that he ran through the park and fired at least eight times as the vehicle approached.
“There’s a better way to solve your problems than shooting guns. … A lot of power is in a gun. You can’t always control it,” Spielman said.
Sgt. Greg Freeman, a Minneapolis police investigator, said the park area has become safer over the years.
Still, he said, he is disheartened that people who probably know more about the shooting refuse to cooperate with police for fear of being perceived as a snitch.
“The code is the code, but this is a baby and a mom,” Freeman said.
For now, Spielman, who is expecting another child, said she can’t wait for her youngest daughter to be back to normal.
“She’s starting to come around. … That makes it a little easier, seeing her be a little more like herself,” she said.